KAYSVILLE -- One vote and the small details can make a big difference.
Dr. Stewart Barlow is the newest member of the Utah House of Representatives, representing District 17, because of one vote and delegates tending to small details.
Barlow, the son of Haven Barlow, a state senator who is the longest-serving legislator in state history (42 years), was elected to fill the seat of Julie Fisher on Thursday at a special meeting of Republican delegates from a district covering Kaysville, Fruit Heights and a portion of Farmington.
Fisher took a job on the governor's cabinet as executive director of the Department of Community and Culture and local officials had 30 days to elect her replacement.
"It was an amazing process. It was the purest form of democracy we could have," Barlow said of the win, noting that because of the special nature of the election, there were no signs and only campaigning among delegates.
Barlow beat Peter Cannon 48-47 in the eighth round of an IRV voting process among 95 delegates, after Candace Daly, election chair for the county GOP, had stressed the need for delegates to list their priorities among candidates from 1 through 8, among the eight-candidate field.
Daly said simply listing only a few of the top choices, and leaving the bottom spots empty could potentially change the election. Her words proved to be prophetic.
Local officials sorted the ballots and eliminated one candidate each round, until one candidate had a 50 percent plus majority. That didn't happen until the last round.
"It just goes to show you the importance of one vote," Barlow said of the margin.
Barlow, a resident of Fruit Heights, ran on a platform that stressed the need to protect state's rights, a promise to work to spur economic development and take a realistic approach to taxes, the economy, health care, immigration and education.
Barlow is an otolaryngologist, head and neck surgeon and involved in a number of family businesses as well. He presently serves on the National Advisory Council for Weber State University, the McKay-Dee Hospital Foundation, and the Utah Medical Association Foundation and as a trustee for the Weber Medical Society Foundation and as president of the Utah Otolaryngology Society.
As a physician, Rep Stephen Handy thinks Barlow brings a much needed vantage point to the legislative process. He said his medical background will be critical, especially given the growing costs of Medicaid.
"We need that perspective," Handy said.
Barlow said he does feel his father's shadow a bit in taking the state post, but he is also taking it in stride.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to serve as long as my father," he mused.